IF / THEN

So an interesting thing happened recently. For my men’s group reading, we’re now back in the book of Matthew after completing the Old Testament. As I was chatting with a friend from my group via Email, I told him, “I’m excited to get into the New Testament again and study Jesus’ life even closer!” Okay, I know that doesn’t sound all that interesting. But it is and let me tell you why… I’ve honestly never been THIS excited to read the Bible before!

I believe it’s been about 3 weeks now since I’ve started writing these blog posts. I know these posts are pretty lengthy and I refer to a lot of Bible verses, but it’s not because I’m any type of Bible expert or because I know the Bible all that well. It’s not like I’m grabbing verses out of thin air from my memory and then typing them out perfectly… I’m simply learning and doing research while I write these.

Here’s the thing though. During these past 3 weeks of consistently opening my heart to the Lord, inviting His Spirit to work and speak through me, and genuinely asking Him to make the Bible come alive to me as I read it, has made a world of difference! It was the step of making the commitment to wake up early, pray, read the Word, and share with you all that has triggered a transformation within me.

It’s awesome because the Word really feels alive to me now! I used to especially dread reading the Old Testament, because I didn’t understand a lot of what I was reading, I found a lot of it repetitive and boring, and it was extremely difficult for me to see how it relates to life today. And with the New Testament, yes it was much more readable and easier to understand, but I never had that passion or desire to really dig into it more than just reading through it once. It was more of an exercise of simply getting through my reading to say that I did it and check it off the list. And I was terrible at that as well!

That’s why what I typed to my friend earlier was a shock to me after I read back what I wrote. I literally thought to myself, “Did I just say that? Am I actually excited to read the Bible now and see what truths God has in store for me? That’s crazy, because I didn’t have this level of desire 3 weeks ago!”

So this is my encouragement for all of you today. If it can happen for me, then it can DEFINITELY happen for you! What used to be more of a task in a routine is becoming my favorite part of the day, even at 5:00 AM. I actually woke up a few minutes late today after snoozing my alarm, and I was disappointed that I missed out on those few minutes once I finally got up. That’s really amazing (and strange) to me because I’ve never had that feeling before, and now my prayer is that God would continue to fuel my new found passion for His Word, and that this isn’t just a short-lived phase.

When talking with a friend yesterday, I referred to this verse, because she told me she is making a new commitment to prayer and reading the Bible this week:

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29

It’s all right there people. This is what happened to me. I made a conscious commitment and sincere effort to seek God… and I found Him! Far too often we complicate things, when God’s Word and God’s ways for us are usually very simple. He straight up said, “IF you seek me genuinely, THEN You’ll find me.” That’s it. That’s a basic conditional IF / THEN statement. It can’t get any simpler than that.

So what does seeking mean to each of you in your lives today? What changes can you make that will put you into a position to genuinely seek Him every day? Deuteronomy 4:29 kills our excuses. It’s either you WANT to find Him, THUS you SEEK Him; or you’re now realizing after reading this post and a bit of self assessment, that you actually DON’T WANT (or really don’t care enough) to find Him, THUS you’re NOT WILLING to seek Him.

I know that’s pretty blunt, but when it comes down to it, it’s true. You either want to or you don’t. It’s your choice, and no one- not your pastor, not your small group leader, not your spouse, and not your friend that writes long blog posts- can force you to seek Him with your heart and soul. And get this, God won’t force you to either. It’s solely up to you, and you need to ask yourself whether you truly want to fix your eyes on Him or not, and if so, what you’re willing to do to succeed.

Is it always easy? No. Just because a concept is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement. The CONCEPT of getting a young child out of the door so you can leave the house is easy, but actually doing it… yah, not so much. Waking up early to do quiet time with the Lord hasn’t been easy for me, and whatever you try probably won’t be that easy for you at first. But that’s why sacrifice is involved.

Our effort and sacrifice signifies the “heart and soul” part of the equation. If anyone could do these things easily, and it wouldn’t mean anything or carry any weight. But we are called to be ambassadors for Christ and His royal priesthood- and that prominent position requires giving Him all that we are. We must deny ourselves and our selfish desire, and pick up our cross daily. Ask yourself if God is worth it though. If your answer is “yes”, then you know what you must do if you’re struggling in this area. Pray for His strength, and then take action in obedience and faith.

I’m nothing and no one special. Just because I write really long posts and am good at Google-searching for Bible verses, doesn’t give me any different position, power, authority, or ability; and it doesn’t make my faith walk any easier than it would be for anyone else. So if I can dedicate time to grow closer to the Lord, we all can!

Simply ask yourself what is truly important to you today. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Our life is like a vapor (James 4:14), and we may be gone sooner than we think. That’s not being negative- that’s reality. If we’re not right with God, then the time is NOW to get right with Him and not delay.

If you feel like you’ve been running the rat race and haven’t been living the abundant life God has created you to live, then what are you waiting for? God promises that IF you seek Him with all of your heart and soul, THEN you will find Him. Take Him up on His promise and see how He transforms you!

[From November 16, 2015]

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